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Hiking Merit Badge

Can a scout complete the hikes for the hiking mb on a treadmill?

Hard to say how they would establish a Hike Plan and after each one how would they describe the route to MBC?

I’m just going to tell him to do the 5 and 2 of the 3 10 mile hikes on the treadmill and the last 10, 15 at 20 outdoors.

Walking on a treadmill doesn’t seem consistent with the intent of the Hiking MB to me. I would be unlikely to approve it as a Hiking MBC. I can see how it might be an accommodation for certain types of medical conditions that prevent a scout from hiking outdoors, with proper approval of alternative advancement requirements. The map route planning, appropriate clothing and equipment, and a trail lunch all seem mooted by walking on a treadmill.

I can see treadmill work being a part of the plan for conditioning (Req. 3), however.


JMO, but I don’t think it fits with the intent of the merit badge.

It would also pretty much moot requirement 6 (reflection of experience after each hike, including weather, interesting things the Scout saw, something the Scout learned about himself/herself, about the outdoors, etc.).


Yeah conditioning is the only thing I would award for using a Treadmill

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If the issue is not being able to get out of the city for the hikes, I’ve worked with scouts in similar situations. They plan out a city route on street maps (with topos thrown in to estimate grade changes), figure distances, appropriate clothing, etc. In the current situation, they would probably end up planning for how they handle PPE/face covering and maintaining social distancing.

We generally ended up talking a lot about how different city hiking is from trail hiking for past cases. I haven’t had a scout ask me about doing a city hike since the social distancing orders were issued in our county.


Urban hikes / city hikes are OK. They are mentioned in the merit badge pamphlet.

I don’t see how you could do most of the Hiking MB on a treadmill – there’s a lot to it besides walking around with a backpack for miles at a time.

Is there some special circumstance that is leading them to ask about using a treadmill? As an MBC for hiking I don’t think I could allow the planning and execution of a treadmill hike. BSA is primarily an outdoor program and this MB is certainly intended to be completed in the outdoors.

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Having earned my hiking merit badge in 1974 based on urban/suburban hiking (I did hike to Milburn, NJ and back) I would not think a treadmill would satisfy the requirement. It could however work toward the fitness requirements for rank and personal fitness.

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